The Sociality (real word. . .maybe) of an Outgoing Introvert

Alright. Its been a big week and a half, with more to come, so if I don’t write it down now I can guarantee it’s going to escape from my head and disappear into the ether!

It might seem exhausting – and I am exhausted – and this fortnight has really tested the introvert in me. I’m not a massive introvert, and every test I seem to do had me pretty much in the middle of any intro/extrovert scale. But I have very limited social batteries, so as the schedule unfolded, it was always going to test me. I’m also very outgoing, and enjoy social events. As long as they’re the right ones. With the right people. And can fit into my social rationing. Which I wasn’t sure these could all do. But thats enough about me, more about the events of the last fortnight!

First of all, there was a Friday night with Will Kostakis for the launch of Monuments. I made sure I was totally professional – and arrived a few minutes late, but that was ok as it meant I walked in to something along the lines of “. . .and that was what led to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lawyers sending me a cease and desist.” (not verbatim). Considering this was soon followed by, ‘There were a few angry phone calls from the head of Channel Nine after that.”

Not what I expected. Over the rest of the night we had some great stories about his grandmother, some heartbreaking ones about his best friend who passes away in school (seriously, I don’t get emotional much, but the way Will tells it may have had a couple of tears threatening to break free), and we even discussed the book a bit.

I won’t go too far into it, but put it this way; Will wanted a lighter, more fun story. So he had a kid who’s best friend didn’t want to have anything to do with him, and who had some pretty terrible family news right at the start. Fun times! Also, that’s my kind of story.

No spoilers, but its one of those YA books that might have a target demographic, but there are really no barriers to us older folk enjoying and appreciating it too. It is layered, it is fun, and like Will, it jumps between hilarity and joviality, and some really deep ideas as well. The guy really understands ‘theme’, and that’s something I always appreciate. I really enjoyed Monuments, and I’m looking forward to Rebel Gods, the second book of the duology.

Alright. Then came Thursday. First of all; another delivery! Alan Baxter’s Manifest Recall. Action, grit, more action, more grit, and rising heart rates. Think Bourne Identity, Taken, and throw in the peanut gallery (the princes) from Stardust. I don’t think I need to wax lyrical about how much I enjoy Alan’s writing. He writes dark. Its my kind of thing. Hence; loved it, along with Served Cold, which I’m getting through as well.

Thursday Part II (or technically Part I, since it came first. . .but anyway): a seminar on the Future of Warfare through the lens of Science Fiction. It was a work thing. My boss let me go to see a bunch of Science Fiction authors. . .during work hours. . .and paid me to do it. . .

I may have become a little too cynical over time, but this didn’t seem right. It was too good to be true. Paid to go see Scalzi, Birmingham, Sparks and more. But it wasn’t a trick, a trap, or a joke at all! Work even put on decent coffee and food (I nearly got stuck with Nescafe decaf – but luckily we found the real coffee before I had to ingest)!

What followed was a lot of talk on diversity of opinion, how MilSF combines the overarching tech and operatic themes normally associated with it, and drills down into how it impacts the individuals that have to live in that world. It was as much about what the future military landscape might look like as it was looking at future threats, as it was looking at how that impacted people’s every day. lives. As Jack Dann said (possibly quoted someone else . .not sure), “Futurists predict the creation of a birth control pill. Writers explore how that changes the behaviors of teenagers at the Drive-In”.

We looked at different cultural approaches, looked at the structures that endured from the last few centuries, and how they might hold up – or not hold up – in the upcoming years. It was great.

So, after a new book, attending a book launch, and being paid to go see international and local Sci Fi legends, that might make enough for the fortnight, right?

Wrong.

CONFLUX 15!! WOOT!!

This is only my second Conflux, but its kind of where my introduction to the writing community began, and I’ve always been involved with the people who run and attend the convention. I was mad keen to go this year, even dragged along a friend, and we both seemed to get a lot out of it. Well, some more than others as my friend Tim went THREE FOR THREE WITH PITCHING! It’s always great to see success, and I think that’s why I like Conflux so much. Its all about celebrating the success of authors, and its why I’m super excited to be on the committee for Conflux 16 – Visions of Time.

In 2020. . .

Get it? VISIONS of time?

Okay, so when you’re finished groaning, just know that I never regret a pun.

But onto Conflux 15 itself. I was nervous as anything for my first panel. Each introduction of each guest – Kaaron Waren, Aaron Davies, Paul Mannering, and Joseph Ashley-Smith – started with ‘Award winning author. . .’. And then there’s me. No awards, no novels out, and pretty intimidated! Luckily, they are all lovely, and we had a great chat about what brings out the best of dark fiction, and how to avoid the gore-for-gore’s-sake if that’s not what we’re after, and how to make it meaningful.

Discussions ensued on research tools, specific topics like submarines in sci fi, editing, Austen’s influence on spec fic, all under the threatening cane of Dr Russell Kirkpatrick (aka Insane Map Boy) to ensure we were properly motivated (NOTE: Russell didn’t cane anyone, and gave us lollies at the end. But his Headmaster act was hilarious).

Then there are the outside-of-panels-and-workshops aspects. Hanging out and having a coffee or cider (depending on time and temperature of day) with a bunch of authors that *shock horror* are actually just great people, not limited to embossed names on a cover, was hugely encouraging.

BUT WAIT . . .

I’m writing this up now, and it’s a really brief and does not do justice to these events. At some point, I’ll be collating notes and getting something more sensical out.

But before that, I have a session with Sam Hawke, of City of Lies and 2018 Aurealis Winner fame. Its tonight, and I’m not sure I’ll be recharged enough to get the most out of it, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

And if you’re wondering why its so rambling at the moment, and why there might be some radio silence in the near future – I managed to get something together that I didn’t hate for Furious Fiction among the Confluxing, submitted a Uni assignment early just before that (I know, WHO AM I?!), and have my major creative artefact due by the end of this week.

In short, my writer brain will be switching off at some point. Its been great, but it is exhausting both socially and mentally. I was meant to have a writing retreat in there too, but unfortunately wasn’t able to make it.

With everything coming up, even though some was very short notice, the question that stuck at the back of my mind was can I do this full time? It might seem presumptuous – I need to finish and publish some books first. Even if I do, going full time is a high bar to set.

But the point is that if I achieve my goal of being a full time writer – if I am able to hand on heart say that I have achieved my dreams – will I be able to maintain the sometimes hectic schedule of writing, learning, attending conventions, hitting deadlines, reading both for fun and to keep up with the industry, editing, running seminars or workshops? Or will I ‘make it’ only to find I can’t actually do the thing?

Well, the first bit of good news for myself is that the schedule of the last two weeks is not a sustained effort even for the most successful authors out there. The other good news is that I’ve loved every minute of it. A retreat I was unable to attend and workshop yet to come aside, I have had a blast over the last fortnight. Even if my social batteries are drained. Even if I’m exhausted. It was all worth it, and rate the experience five starts, would go again.  The last couple of hectic weeks have only confirmed that this is exactly where I want to be and how I would more than happily spend the rest of my life.

~Nathan

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